Vatican Bank Sued by Holocaust Victims

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January 20, 2000



More than 700,000, Serbs, Jews, Roma and former Soviet Union citizens were murdered by the Nazi puppet regime of Croatia during World War II. The Croatian Nazis, known as the Ustasha, burned villages and churches, operated slave labor and concentration camps, and committed monstrosities that shocked even hardened German observers. In a scenario shockingly similar to today’s Yugoslavia, atrocities were committed to cleanse Greater Croatia of non-Roman Catholics. Hundreds of millions of dollars of gold, property, and money was looted by the Ustasha from their victims.

In November 1999, California attorneys Jon Levy and Tom Easton filed the original Complaint in San Francisco. On January 20, 2000 Easton and Levy filed an amended class action law suit. The suit names the Vatican Bank, Franciscan Order and other unidentified Swiss, Austrian, Argentine, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and American banking institutions as defendants. The suit seeks an accounting of the gold and money and ultimately, restitution for the victims and their families.

The Ustasha Treasury with the connivance of the Vatican and other banks was laundered in 1944-45 and used to assist the top Croatian war criminals evade justice. Ante Pavelic, known as the "Butcher of the Balkans" and leader of Nazi Croatia was given refuge by the Vatican and later escaped to Argentina. The whereabouts of the Croatian "blood" money was a dark mystery, however in 1998 the US State Department demanded the Vatican account for the loot. Despite numerous requests from governments and Holocaust victims, the Vatican Bank and Holy See have refused to open their wartime archives.

The original plaintiffs, four Ukrainian and Jewish concentration camp survivors and two organizations representing over 300,000 Holocaust survivors are now joined by plaintiff Vladimir Brodich of Arizona, who was 9 years old in 1941 when they took away and shot his father and brother and gang raped his sister, by plaintiff William Dorich of California, who lost 17 relatives when the Ustasha burnt alive 45 Serbian victims in the Orthodox Serbian Church in Vojinic, and plaintiff Igor Najfeld of Vermont, who was born June 28, 1944, the day his two physician parents escaped from slave labor in Bosnia to join the Tito partisans, and whose mother had 56 relatives killed by the Ustasha, some in the infamous Jasenovac extermination camp. The Jasenovac Research Institute of Birmingham, Mississippi has also joined with the effort to force the Vatican to open its archives and reveal the truth of the "hidden holocaust" of World War Two.

Restitution could reach hundreds of millions of dollars which would be distributed to the tens of thousands victims of the Ustasha Regime and their descendants.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco: No.C99-4941MMC.

Law Office of Thomas Dewey Easton

Jonathan H. Levy

PO Box 6080, Cincinnati OH 45206

(513) 528-0586 ~

Tom Easton

1335 Pebble Beach Drive, Crescent City CA 95531

(707) 464-4513 ~ Fax: (707) 465-5389 ~

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Jon Levy
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